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In December 2010, The Tourist was unleashed upon UK cinema screens. Boasting an impressive cast, including Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Timothy Dalton, it was all set to blow our minds with a mixture of comedy, action and mystery (or so the enthusiastic trailer would have you believe). But with the imminent arrival of the film at LU Cinema, showing on Saturday March 12 and Sunday March 13 it’s time to ask; does the film live up to its hype?
I’m going to refrain from giving an outright “no, do not waste part with those precious few pounds for this abomination of a film”, which was near enough what I originally planned to write. There was, on the surface, a lot right with the film after all. The actors are good, the soundtrack is good, and the ridiculous amount of money thrown at it was obviously well spent on giving everything that Hollywood perfect feel. There was but one problem: the story itself is just not well done. Much as I would like to presume that my Poirotesque skills of deduction allowed me to guess the ending of the film, by the time our leading lady had met Depp on a Venice bound train, it was obvious that the film was simply predictable.
The Tourist begins interestingly enough as a worryingly inept surveillance team slowly tail Jolie, offering a rather drawn out shot of her sashaying rear end as she struts through Paris. Later in the scene they seem surprised that she has obviously been aware of their presence the entire time. How could she possibly have noticed the blacked-out van crawling along about a foot behind her and then parking directly opposite her cafe of choice? After the revelation that it is actually the British authorities that are monitoring Elise (Jolie) in the hopes of finding her fraudster ex, Alexander, there is some note receiving on her part, subsequent note burning and the arrest of the misfortunate note courier. Elise manages to escape and the man in charge of the case (Paul Bettany) is consequently told off by his chief inspector (Dalton). That all happens within 10 minutes and there are about 85 to go.
The note was from Alexander to Elise, asking her to pick someone who could possibly be him (Scotland Yard apparently have reason to believe he may have had extensive plastic surgery to throw them off) and leaves her instructions about which train to catch. Enter Johnny Depp, in the form of American widowed maths teacher, Frank. This slightly awkward and unsure character is led along by Elise, her soft, English accent and voluptuous figure obviously causing him to forget his former plans and stay with her for the night. Though nothing happens and he sleeps on the couch, Elise seems surprisingly disappointed that this is the case, for a woman supposedly so madly in love with a man that she would carry out the charade for in the first place.
It is at this point that we discover that it is not only Scotland Yard after Alexander, but also his former boss, British Mafia Boss, Reginald Shaw (Stephen Berkoff). The most comedic moment of the film is certainly when two of his thugs attempt to break into the hotel room in which Frank is staying alone, Elise having mysteriously left early that morning, and his attempt to escape. Poor, confused Frank is now at the centre of all the trouble, with both Bettany and the Mafia after him. It is left to Elise to rescue him and after a bit of flirting, she tells him to go home. Frank has, however, fallen madly in love with Elise in the day or so since they met and so unexpectedly decides to stay and try to woo Elise at the ball she was attending that night. His attempts are futile as she reveals that he was just part of a plan and that she is not quite so keen on him as he is on her. But will he be fazed by this? Have you ever seen a Hollywood film before?
We find out that Elise is, in fact, an Interpol agent who fell in love with Alex the embezzler and has now promised Inspector Acheson that she will deliver her ex-lover to them at the ball. In swoops Shaw, tired of all the running around and eager to retrieve his stolen millions. Cue a kidnapping, a bit of violence, Frank’s attempt to be a hero, a major twist and a bad end for at least a couple of the characters.
The lights come up and the credits roll and yes, that really was the film. It had action, it had romance, it had beautiful people, yet not one of these elements was brought to its full potential. The romance did clear up a bit towards the very end of the film and a couple of the deaths were quite impressive, but I ultimately left the screen scratching my head and lamenting my lighter pockets. If you are determined to challenge the bad press, or are a die-hard Depp/Jolie fan then of course, feel free to watch The Tourist and form your own opinion. I can’t help but feel that those pounds would be better spent renting a copy of Sweeney Todd or Girl, Interrupted and letting this latest flick pass quietly by.